The Uitenhage Despatch Development Initiative’s (UDDI) Nelson Mandela Bay Science and Technology Centre hosted over 1 500 grade 4-12 learners at this year’s National Science Week (NSW) held recently.
An initiative of the Department of Science and Technology and is managed by the South African Agency for Science and Technology Advancement (SAASTA), NSW runs simultaneously at venues including schools, libraries, universities and science centres in all nine provinces annually.
With this year being the centre’s third stretch as host of the event, a total of 39 schools were invited to participate in organised activities. The invitation for attendance was also expanded to the general public of the Nelson Mandela Bay.
“In previous years, our focus was on Uitenhage and Despatch-based schools, but for this year we extended the invitation to the all schools located within the Metro.
“This was mainly driven by the need to bring awareness to the general public on what science entails as they have an integral part to play when learners make career choices,” said Singathwa Poswa, UDDI Education Programme Coordinator.
Inspired by the NSW theme “The international year of light and light based technologies”, the centre had its attendees captivated with its kaleidoscope and pinhole camera.
“Learners were taught how to construct their very own kaleidoscope and pinhole camera, which proved to be a fascinating and exciting experiment for them as they marveled at their own creations. The diversity of our scientific activities got everyone thrilled, particularly over the fact that material used could be easily found at home.
“Moreover, we showcased a ‘Light Chemistry Science Show’ which allowed students to have fun with laser beams. Learners were also taken on an excursion to the MetroWind’s Van Stadens Wind Farm to learn about renewable energy” Poswa says.
In an effort to contribute towards education and promoting practical applications of science in everyday life, this year’s activities fall in line with the UDDI’s education and skills development programme which targets educators and learners in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics); providing them with unique, exciting curriculum and educational experience while incorporating research and development initiatives benefiting the broader community.
“Exhibitors who showcased their products at the event included Ellies, Magnetic Storm, East Cape Midlands College, and Nal’ibali to name a few. The exhibition afforded learners with the opportunity to interact with the exhibitors and participate in workshops. It is our desire to see increased youth participation in such activities and their inclusion in interactions of this sort entices their interest in choosing STEM careers.
“We can safely say that the 2015 National Science Week has been a success, as anyone could clearly sense enthusiasm from each student as they participate in each activity. I am extremely proud to be a part of an initiative that promotes development in STEM and stay assured NMB Science Centre has many more events, programmes and initiatives in the pipe line to promote STEM in the NMB Metro,” Poswa explains.